Essay about William Shakespeare 's The Tempest

Essay about William Shakespeare 's The Tempest

Length: 1294 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest indubitably ranks amongst the celebrated English playwright and poet’s most magical, mystical works. And, yet, the play – which takes place on a fictional island initially populated only by the magician Prospero, his daughter Miranda, a covey of “tricksy” spirits, and a malformed, misshapen creature called Caliban – often seems as rooted in human experience as some of its playwright’s other, more “realistic” works. Prospero’s control over, enslavement of, and treatment towards the arguably nonhuman and inarguably “Other”-ized Caliban can, and does, after all, echo old English colonial notions. Indeed, one might even argue that The Tempest is both a frank discussion and implicit repudiation of Elizabethan and Jacobean England’s imperialist fancies.
If one were to examine the following speech, a speech Miranda gives about – and to – Caliban in Act 1 Scene 2, for instance, one might find Miranda’s comments as reprehensible as Caliban’s behavior:

For starters: her every last line is imbued with a sense of superiority. She calls Caliban a “savage” and a “thing,” for example, where both nouns serve only to “other” Caliban by stripping him of his humanity. In going on to call him a “thing most brutish,” Miranda asserts that Caliban is also more than just nonhuman: that he is, in fact, a most base and bestial creature. This sentiment is reiterated in her proclamation of the fact that Caliban, not knowing his “own meaning,” would “gabble” at her before she taught him her language; both the notion of Caliban’s not comprehending his “own meaning” and Miranda’s employ of the verb “gabble,” which carries unambiguously negative connotations, liken Caliban to a beast. That Miranda never stops to consider how Ca...


... middle of paper ...


...s the extent of his own conceit, narcissism, and self-importance. In declaring that he “will plague them (Caliban, Stefano, and Trinculo) all,” Prospero also reveals his own violent instincts – and that he is no more honorable or noble than anyone else.
In conclusion: one might argue that Shakespeare’s The Tempest ought to be read as a criticism of European – and primarily English – imperialism, with Caliban acting as a stand-in for the foreign body and Miranda, Prospero, Stefano, and Trinculo, amongst others, acting as the invading Europeans. The play, after all, sees its “human” characters: acting on the assumption that they are inherently better than Caliban; acting sanctimonious; denigrating Caliban on racial grounds; “Other”-izing him; showing him an appalling lack of compassion, or empathy; and wondering if, and how, they might use him for their own gains.




Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

William Shakespeare 's The Tempest Essay

- “Discoveries can challenge or renew our perceptions of ourselves, others and the world” The challenging nature of a sudden or unexpected discovery can alter an individual’s perspective in various ways, resulting in the re-evaluation of a human beings belief, values and behaviour. The journey of discovery in which an individual accomplishes new insights and perspectives, allows them to procure understanding into their own individuality, as well as being able to envision their strengths and weakness....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Psychology]

Better Essays
1011 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about William Shakespeare 's The Tempest

- In the comedic, yet thrilling play, The Tempest, William Shakespeare uses characters such as Caliban, Alonso, and Ariel to show Prospero’s immense cruelness and pure monstrosity. Moreover, these Shakespearean characters are also used to highlight Prospero’s change in character into a kinder and more forgiving person. Prospero starts the play out as a vengeful monster, after an illuminating moment however, his persona transforms into his true identity of a compassionate man. Prospero’s relationships with others prior to his personal epiphany were highly unpleasant to say the least....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Caliban]

Better Essays
1062 words (3 pages)

Essay on Trinculo in The Tempest by William Shakespeare

- Trinculo in The Tempest by William Shakespeare In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Trinculo is a minor comic character whose main ambition is to align himself with whomever is the perceived leader in any situation he finds himself in. He is an intrinsically sociable person, and he gains whatever social rank he can through positioning himself in accordance with those around him, but never seeks to be the leader. In this way, he is the perfect jester, always seeking to stand by the king's side....   [tags: Tempest William Shakespeare Trinculo Essays]

Better Essays
1192 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Prospero and Ariel in The Tempest by William Shakespeare

- Prospero and Ariel in The Tempest by William Shakespeare Throughout the years since The Tempest was first published in the 1623 Folio, there has been much debate among Shakespeare’s contemporaries and critics as to the significance of the figure of Prospero and other major characters featured in the work. In this paper, I want to examine the figure of Prospero and his relationship with the character Ariel. In doing this, I want to show how Prospero is a figure for the artist, how Ariel is a figure for the poetic imagination, and how the relationship between Prospero and Ariel explores the relationship between the artist and his or her poetic imagination....   [tags: Tempest William Shakespeare Essays]

Better Essays
2317 words (6.6 pages)

The Juxtaposition Of Caliban 's Mental And Physical State Throughout The Tempest By William Shakespeare

- The juxtaposition of Caliban’s mental and physical state throughout the “Tempest” hints that this paradoxical statement may be true. The ambivalence of Caliban’s “brutal” and “sensitive” being comes predominantly, but not consistently, through the medium of his physical appearance and his diction respectively. This “sensitive” aspect of Caliban is amplified further when his character is analysed from the viewpoint of the modern era. These audiences are far more sympathetic to this “abhorred slave” than that of the Shakespearian era as a result of the extensive colonial expansion of the British Empire that took place during this time, concluding in audiences being far more hostile to any nati...   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Audience]

Better Essays
1052 words (3 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Tempest Essays

- Discoveries may or may not be enlightening for the individual, though the context of colonisation of others and migration to new lands. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, presents various ideas through the context of European colonisation, where an individual is faced with the issues of discrimination, language barriers and the overall idea of others perceiving them contemptuously. Shakespeare presents the native ‘Caliban” using harsh language and the invaders using negative imagery to describe him; yet the intellectual transformation of Caliban is seen through his discovery of poetic language....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Moons of Uranus]

Better Essays
1192 words (3.4 pages)

The Tempest the Play by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Tempest the Play by William Shakespeare Ruler’s in general face many problems, as is the nature of having power and authority. However rulers like Prospero face even more difficulties, as Prospero has the ultimate power of magic and can control and manipulate people and their actions, more so than a natural ruler. The first difficulty presented is an issue, which is dealt with throughout the play: the idea of how much or how little to intervene. From the beginning of the play we are told of how and why Prospero is usurped from his dukedom, “I thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated/ To closeness, and the bettering of my mind/ With that which, but by being so retired, O’er-prized all...   [tags: Tempest William Shakespeare Essays]

Better Essays
1262 words (3.6 pages)

Exploring the Themes of Forgiveness and Reconciliation in The Tempest by William Shakespeare

- Exploring the Themes of Forgiveness and Reconciliation in The Tempest by William Shakespeare Prospero is a character that seems to stand at the very centre of The Tempest. Throughout the play, he prompts most of the action, and he has the last word. The entire plot of the play is a scheme designed by Prospero to bring his rivals to a state of regret so that he can pardon them and restore the rightful order of things to his dukedom of Milan. As Prospero is seen as being all-powerful over the island, he could easily destroy or punish his enemies by any method or means....   [tags: Tempest William Shakespeare Essays]

Better Essays
1407 words (4 pages)

William Shakespeare 's The Tempest Essay

- William Shakespeare is often considered to be the greatest playwright in the history of the Western world. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare wrote and directed performances of his plays at the Globe Theatre, which continue to be performed around the world to this day. As technology advanced, different renditions of Shakespeare’s plays have been put on, from televised recordings to radio shows to film adaptations. Many of Shakespeare’s popular plays such as Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream have been adapted into films in recent years....   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Djimon Hounsou]

Better Essays
1300 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on William Shakespeare's The Tempest

- William Shakespeare's The Tempest Love, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a “strong affection”, a “warm attraction”, an “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern” for another. It is “to feel a passion, devotion, or tenderness” for another. Love is simple and yet so utterly complex. Love is that which has the power to build you up and when taken away has the potential to knock you down. The Tempest by William Shakespeare is a political play with a love story woven throughout it. This tale of passion is one that is presented through Prospero’s daughter Miranda and Alonso’s son Ferdinand....   [tags: William Shakespeare Tempest Essays]

Better Essays
2094 words (6 pages)